Wow. Talk about giving away a game. Boston College played fantastic basketball in the first half, but naturally fell apart in the second half just like any quality Eagles team does. West Virginia didn't win this game, we lost it. Below are three positives and three negatives that I took from Friday's collapse:
1) Olivier Hanlan
I have a feeling that Olivier is going to find himself in these articles time after time, considering he is quite literally the only reason BC finds a way to stay in games. Hanlan finished with 23 points, 3 assists, 4 steals, and a block in what seemed to be his best overall game so far. I'm really not even that mad that he missed a crucial free throw late, because without him, BC loses by double digits...easily. He took the game over in the final minutes, scoring 10 of the Eagles' final 15 points. He hit jumpers, finished through contact, and was very active on defense. Unfortunately for Olivier, he didn't have enough help around him to pull out the win.
2) Patrick Heckman
Aside from a bad decision late in the game, in which Heckman tried to dribble a loose ball instead of just picking it up, he played a solid game. The German finished Friday night with a season high 14 points and a team-high 7 rebounds. Heckman has improved each and every game, seeing his scoring gradually increase. In addition to his impressive offensive play, Heckman drew a HUGE charge late in the game against Juwan Staten that led to West Virginia's best player fouling out only a minute later. If Heckman can keep improving and solidify himself as the third scorer to Hanlan and Aaron Brown then I think the Eagles can shock some people this year.
3) Fouling Out Juwan Staten
You might read this and think, "How is a player fouling out a positive for our team?" Well, you're right to question it because it is unusual, but Staten fouling out was actually due to two smart plays by the Eagles. The first, mentioned above, occurred when Staten tried to drive to the middle where he was cut off when Heckman beat him to the spot, drawing a charge and the fourth foul on Staten. His fifth foul came only seconds later as Hanlan saw how Staten was pressed up on him defensively. Olivier took it right at him drawing a blocking foul and sending West Virginia's All-American candidate to the bench. That foul sent Hanlan to the line and helped BC get back in the game after losing their initial lead.
1) FOUL. TROUBLE.
The loss to the Mountaineers saw the Eagles commit a whopping 28 personal fouls, making it the third game in a row that BC has committed at least 20. Now you probably looked at that number and figured that it was a season high for the Eagles, but you can't possibly forget about the 31 foul performance against UMass, can you? Dennis Clifford took to the bench at the 3:30 mark with his fifth foul while Heckman, Owens, and Magarity all registered four of their own. If all of this wasn't bad enough, the Mountaineers were in the bonus FOUR MINUTES INTO THE SECOND HALF. Luckily, West Virginia didn't seem to realize this and decided not to attack the rim. If BC wants to compete against the ACC's best, then impact players cannot be sitting on the bench in foul trouble.
2) Allowing Offensive Rebounds
Second chance opportunities absolutely killed the Eagles on Friday night. BC surrendered a total of 20 offensive boards which led to 17 second-chance points for the Mountaineers, a number the Eagles simply could not overcome. I'm sure Jim Christian knows this, but offensive rebounds often lead to the easiest points for the opposing team as the defense is out of position most of the time. The solution to this problem is all in the fundamentals. The Eagles aren't athletic enough to sky over opponents for rebounds so it all comes down to boxing out. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a plethora of rebounding drills in store for BC.
3) The Collapse
The first half was awesome. Almost perfect. However, just like many of us expected, BC lost their double digit lead once again and went on to lose the game. The second half was all Mountaineers all the time as Juwan Staten really improved upon his sub-par first half and led West Virginia to the win. They simply wanted it more. The intensity that I saw in the first half was gone and it was almost like BC was coasting in the second half. The Eagles are nowhere near talented enough to take a half off and still win. However, they are talented enough to play hard for 40 minutes and beat some quality teams. We simply let this one get away.
Overall, this one hurts. After the first half I was crazy optimistic, more optimistic than I've been about the program in years. I convinced myself that if we played a solid second half, got the win, went into the championship after beating two quality teams, that maybe we could even beat UCONN. And then who knows, maybe we even sneak into the top 25 discussion after beating the #17 team in the country. Now however, I sit alone in Harris Dining Hall, eating my meatball sub, contemplating what went wrong and how we could have lost that game. Then I remember. It's BC, It's what they do. As I said, This. One. Hurts.
Also, another shout out to my friend Christian Oliveria who, as I mentioned before, is a Freshman at UMass and just happens to also be a West Virginia fan. So, if you're keeping track at home that's Christian 2, BC Faithful 0.
.....this one hurts.